First Drive: Peugeot 3008

Promotion by Peugeot

With the crossover becoming one of the most popular body types, Peugeot has changed tack with the 3008, changing it from an MPV to a more stylish SUV model in an attempt to challenge the likes of the Nissan Qashqai and Volkswagen Tiguan.

So will the renewed 3008 take the fight to its established rivals with its new chiselled exterior? AOL Cars travelled to Bologna to see what the fuss was about.

What is it?

The 3008 is a completely reworked model that will kick start Peugeot's "SUV offensive" which was unveiled at the 2016 Paris Motor Show and will see five new SUVs brought to the market by the French company.

With an angular and forward-looking design, the new car is full of technological goodies, including the new i-Cockpit infotainment system that fits into the raised instrument binnacle behind the wheel.

What's under the bonnet?

Peugeot claims the range of engines on offer are the most efficient in the crossover class, and if that is to be believed, low running costs are a great plus point on this model.

Coming with a range of two petrol and five diesel engines – including the top level BlueHDi 180 S&S unit we're testing – there are plenty of options to choose from to get the right performance for you.

First Drive: Peugeot 3008

First Drive: Peugeot 3008

What's the spec like?

With the UK trim packages starting at the second-tier Allure level, you will get plenty of quality accessories as standard, such as a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors and 3D Connected navigation – with software provided by TomTom.

All the models coming to these shores get the i-Cockpit, which brings a cleaner design compared to the previous version. Fitted with an eight-inch touchscreen and 12.3-inch head-up instrument panel, you also get Apple CarPlay and Android MirrorLink included.

The top of the line GT offers high-end leather trim, a panoramic opening glass roof and Peugeot's keyless entry system. There's also active cruise control, two-tone 19-inch alloy wheels and a smart electric tailgate.

Any rivals?

The crossover market is frequently expanding, so Peugeot will have to battle hard to steal customers away from models such as the Tiguan and market-leading Qashqai.

But with its improved design, great standard accessories and efficient powertrains, the 3008 will be a tantalising option. With the new Seat Ateca also coming to the UK towards the end of this year, it could become a four-way scrap between VW, Nissan, Seat and Peugeot to have the leading crossover.

What's it like to drive?

While the 3008 is quite large, it handles very well in corners thanks to the firm suspension set up. This keeps body roll to a minimum, but manages not to cause a harsh ride as uneven road surfaces are soaked up nicely.

It is fitted with the i-Cockpit's smaller steering wheel – also fitted to the 208 and 308 hatchbacks – which takes time to get used to, but its light and direct turn-in is complemented by plenty of feedback for the driver. This means you feel like you're driving a saloon rather than a high-top SUV. At faster speeds, there is limited noise from the outside, meaning it can be less exhausting during longer journeys than its rivals.

Using the 178hp 2.0-litre BlueHDi engine, you get plenty of energy from the punchy yet refined unit that is smooth at motorway speeds. The GT is fitted with a six-speed automatic which is smooth if a little sluggish on gear changes.

AOL Cars Verdict:

Peugeot's reimagined 3008 makes for an incredibly attractive proposition as a C-segment SUV. It combines a wealth of standard equipment with snazzy looks, high levels of practicality, a smart interior and a refined and capable driving experience.

Despite competition from the likes of the Qashqai, Tiguan and Ateca, C-segment customers would be well-advised to pay a visit to their local Peugeot dealer as soon as possible.